While infertility is often associated with women’s health issues, male factor infertility contributes to about 40% of infertility cases. Though many causes of male infertility are genetic or beyond his control, there are also a number of things men may be doing regularly that affect the quality of his sperm. Since the first step to solving a problem is to know what the problem is, let’s take a look at five common behaviors that may cause men’s fertility issues.
Lighting up a cigarette may hurt your chances of having a baby. Tobacco smoking has been linked to erectile dysfunction and genetic damage in sperm. Nicotine itself has been shown to have a negative effect on both sperm count and sperm motility.
You may live in an area where recreational use of marijuana is legal. Unfortunately for those of you who partake, studies have shown that regular marijuana use can reduce total sperm count by as much as 55%.
While women are advised to give up drinking when trying for a baby, men should consider going dry as well. Having just five drinks per week can affect your semen quality, with greater effects the more alcohol you regularly consume.
It’s not just alcohol, though. Drinking too much caffeine can impact your fertility as well. Men who regularly drank two or three cups of coffee per day saw significant decreases in fertility rates compared to men who averaged less than one cup per day.
3. Staying Too Warm
Sperm doesn’t like to be too hot or too cool. Your body naturally adjusts to changes in temperature, but many factors can overwhelm the normal cooling system by constricting or applying heat to directly or for too long. Raising the average temperature of a man’s testicles by just 2 degrees C can decrease his sperm count practically to zero – and it could take months to recover.
4. Sitting Around Too Much
You’ve probably heard it before. Sitting around watching TV is bad for you. Well, in the case of your fertility, it can be. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that young men who watch TV 20 hours a week had sperm counts 44% lower than men who didn’t watch much TV at all. The same study found that men who engaged in 15 hours a week of vigorous exercise had sperm counts 73% higher than men who were the least physically active. So hit the gym or go for a run! Check out our post The Complete Guide to Exercise and Fertility for more tips.
5. Men, Stressing Out is Bad for Your Body
Stress can create a nasty spiral when it comes to your health and fertility. Many different parts of your life can cause you stress from work and finances to your relationships with friends and family. That stress, unfortunately, can have a negative effect on your fertility. Studies show that psychological stress can lower sperm concentration, appearance, and chance of fertilizing an egg.
Some good ways to deal with stress also help with some of the other behaviors on this list. Caffeine actually increases stress, so cutting back on your regular intake can reduce the effects of caffeine on your sperm and lower stress. Physical activity also helps reduce stress, so when you’re getting off the couch, you may also be bringing your stress level down.
These common activities may negatively affect your ability to conceive. Now that you know, you can take steps to avoid them and minimize their impact.